Have an account?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hiking with the Hill People in the Scenic Sapa Region of Vietnam


Tired and cold from the previous night's hike from the city center to our homestay located in a village deep in the hillside of Sapa, I exulted at the sight of sunlight creeping in our spacious second floor room. Because this means the temperature is hovering near 10 degrees compared to the almost 2 or negative 2 degrees that chilled us the night before when I lay shaking even under a thick blanket. 

DSC_5291

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Where to Stay in Vigan: The Heritage House of Villa Angela


It was still dark when we arrived at the front gates of Villa Angela and fortunately the caretaker was waiting for us already. She opened the gates and let us enter a long driveway flanked by gardens on both sides leading to a short staircase going to the upper level of the house. Stepping on creaking wooden floors we were ushered inside our spacious room furnished with two double beds and a lone single bed. It was the fatigue from our long bus trip that had us dozing off in no time - at that moment still unmindful of the rustic charm of Villa Angela, whose historic walls we just walked by under the mask of darkness.

IMG_2508

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Cyclo Ride Around Hanoi


During my first visit to Hanoi last year I was able to ride its famous rickshaw or "cyclo" as they call it there, on a brief pedal from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum back to the old quarters. Other than that, I wasn't able to hop on it and pass through the busier parts of the city, as I opted to spend most of my time moving and dodging motorcycles on foot. 

IMG_1496

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Few Good Days at Railay (Rai Leh) Beach


The vibe and the scenery surrounding Railay reminds me of the many beautiful islands in the Philippines but with Thai food and more tourists. Shrugging the resemblance aside as a no-biggie, I feel excited bout being here. The fact that I am now one step closer to visiting Maya Bay, a majestic dot on this planet which has become a fascination of mine since I first watched the Danny Boyle film (based on Alex Garland's novel) all backpackers know well about, I consider Rai Leh as a perfect pit stop.

DSC_0300

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Mid-day Meander at B.B.D. Bagh Kolkata, India


On December 8, 1930 three young Bengali activists Benoy, Badal and Dinesh cloaked in European clothing, entered the Writer's Building in the former Dalhousie Square and assassinated the Inspector of General Prisons N.S. Simpson. Though, this incident was just a tiny speck in the storied history of this central district of Kolkata, it proved significant enough to create a ripple effect that enhanced the Bengali’s role in the collective fight for Indian independence, which is the reason why the place is now known as B.B.D. Bagh - in honor of the three freedom fighters that also died that fateful day. 

DSC_7152

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sri Lanka: Stilt Fishing in Unawatuna


I realized we were outside of Galle already when the scenery shifted to azure seas and unending white sands. I resisted telling my guide Sandrew to pull on the side of the road so I could combat the strong waves battering the shore. I saw a couple of surfers high five each other from afar and after another kilometer, a Sri Lankan couple gazing at the beautiful formation of whitecaps caught my attention. The wind was incessant attached with a yawning effect on me - on any other day I would prefer to just doze off while listening to the thunderous rolling of the waves. But unfortunately, not this day though.

DSC_1823

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Palo Alto Bed and Breakfast in Puerto Princesa is a Charming Abode Tucked in a Forest


The email that popped into my inbox one day delivering a message of invitation to stay and review this place called Palo Alto Bed and Breakfast in Puerto Princesa, Palawan came at the most opportune of time, because I and my girlfriend Monnette have been planning for a trip somewhere. Puerto Princesa in Palawan presenting itself as an option was a definitive 'Yes!' moment. Plus, the chance to witness her experience the subterranean river for the first time makes the trip more meaningful. 

IMG_0047

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dhobi Ghat Mumbai, India: Airing Your Dirty Laundry Here is Perfectly OK


In the song "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers, Patrick Simmons sings about a trip he made to Uptown New Orleans to have his laundry done "Well if it rains, I don't care - Don't make no difference to me, Just take that street car that's goin' uptown". In a totally unrelated matter to the aforementioned American rock band, In the well known open air laundromat called the Dhobi Ghat, the similarly sounding Dhobis - a caste group in India known to work primarily as clothes-washers, can be seen anytime of the day washing and hanging dirty clothes along a  gigantic laundry space complete with wash pens and flagging stones. 

DSC_9468

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Missing the Rustic Charm of my Colonial Home in Galle, Sri Lanka – Villa Templeberg


It was around lunch time while the sun was at its peak that I got off from my tuktuk at the roadside fronting a small hill. I followed my hastily written direction jotted down on a torn out paper that led me to a spiral trail leading to the top of a coconut plantation tucked inside a forest - to where I assumed the Templeberg Villa is perched. The 3 hour train ride from Colombo left me with high spirits as I enjoyed the scenery along the way - but comes with it, a weary body screaming for a soft bed and a short nap before I continue my exploration in the city of Galle. I hiked a couple hundred meters and while on the verge of huffing and puffing I saw a man by the door of what seemed to be Villa Templeberg. He waved at me and gestured something until he disappeared inside. 

1

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My First Sense of Snow at Sapa, Vietnam


I know its 'winter' in the northern part of Vietnam at the time I arrived there middle of December last year. I remember sleeping at the airport upon arrival with two layers of jacket until I was woken up by a freezing burst of wind I thought was emanating from the air-conditioning system. I looked around and saw the source of the cold - the automatic door that remained open. When I arrived at the old french quarters of Hanoi that morning I welcomed the 12 degree Celsius cold with delight, it was my first time to experience that kind of cold - in a city setting outside of my trips to Sagada and Mount Pulag - which are both in the highlands, before. 

DSC_5216

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Eat, Sleep, Relax and Repeat at Taal Vista Hotel on its 75th Year


"Next time we see those, can you please stop the car so I could take a picture" I said to Monnette as we make a pass at those colorful miniature windmills by the side of the road. We're in Tagaytay already and the sky can never get bluer than what is above us that day. If the air has a texture it would be two notch smoother than the air from where we came from. I've never spent a night at Tagaytay before, just a handful of daytrips and nary of a chance to wake and feel its morning dew on my feet. This time though, an invite to stay at Taal Vista Hotel will mark that first time. 

75
Welcoming guests since 1939

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Better than Expected Sidetrip to Qutb Minar in New Delhi


In a four-fold piece of paper, New Delhi should be jotted around the first folded part. It was day 7 or 8 of our 25-day peregrination around India when we arrived at this capital city. Still reeling from a hangover of amazement developed by our feasting of the eyes over the sight of Taj Mahal in Agra, I expect to be taken aback by New Delhi the same way Kolkata blew me away with its tremendous amount of street activities and noise. 

DSC_7964

Monday, October 13, 2014

Paddle Up and High Five Redux at CDO


I've been on a river rafting ride three times already, each one not washing-up away any of the excitement, every ride brings forth a feeling of thrill and a sense of adventure. Although this was a somber version compared to my first river rafting experience in CDO, where Lot, Tina and I opted for the 'wild' ride - which we tumbled and experienced the 'washing machine' effect at least half a dozen times, I still enjoyed this ride I had with my fellow #TravelMindanao buddies. Our party of eight were divided into two rafts so I ended up with Lisa Marie, Alex and Doi while Ferdz, Shugah, Glen and Nathalie boarded the other raft where they were joined by our new travel buddies Audrey and Teckie. 

1

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Kids of Chavayan Village Will be Alright


It was windy all throughout my short stay in Batanes and the condition at Sabtang Island made for an early winter setting. The scenery along the way to the old village of Chavayan was the best I've seen. Highlighted by endless and varying depths of green fields dotted by loitering chewing cows and goats while foregrounding the vast blue seas, it is unthinkable to even blink your eyes while you're here. When we arrived at the town, it was a full hour before sundown, giving us only a little  time for exploration that day.

DSC_6733

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Taal Vista Hotel Presents: Culinary Gems: A Festival of Filipino Flavors


I went nearly addicted to Thali meals while I was in India. I can also tell of similar food-tripping pleasures over spicy dishes that I tried in Sri Lanka, stuffing myself with various stir fried dishes and drowning on tom yum soup in Thailand. While I'm glad to have such an eventful gastronomical adventure so far this year, my heart still belongs to my native land's home-cooked flavors. Each time I would arrive at the airport I instantly imagines what my mom would be cooking at home. Same with every Filipinos in every part of the world, Filipino food still rocks our appetite. That's why when Taal Vista Hotel - as part of their 75th year celebration, invited me to experience their Culinary Gems: A Festival of Filipino Flavors, I was almost flabbergasted with excitement. 
image001
Reserve your seat for the remaining Culinary Gems dates at Cafe Veranda Taal Vista Hotel

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nuat Thai: A Soothing Solution to this Backpacker’s Back Pain


Ever since I came home from Sri Lanka my lower back has been bothering me. It isn't painful but the muscles kinda stiffen each time I would stand. It also doesn't help doing most of my work sitting in front of my laptop - reason why my back screams of a soothing therapy. I'm not big on the art of massage that I even skipped getting one at Khao San Road in Bangkok a couple of years ago. However, upon prodding from my girlfriend Monnette and an invite to try out Nuat Thai's newest branch located at Banawe Street in Quezon City, the universe conspired for my body to get its well deserved treatment after numerous miles of backpacking abuse on the road.

IMG_1246

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ayubowan Sri Lanka: A Quick Roundup


Here I am sipping a hot cup of Dilmah tea on a gloomy afternoon. I know for sure that It will take a while before I start writing in lengthy narrative about my Sri Lanka trip. I'm still simmering the wonderful memories on my mind. It's been quite a year so far, after India I have no idea I would double-up on it with a follow-up trip to this beautiful tear-drop shaped nation brimming with cultural and historical wealth, capped off by its friendly people. Other than the 5 kilos of tea which I brought home, I am more grateful to amassing a new set of perception that finally replaced the image of the brutal civil war I used to associate with Sri Lanka. 

today

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mad About Thali Meals in India


It was at Agra, our third city stop in India where I looked behind me and saw the couple seated next table relishing an interesting looking plate filled with varying dishes. We asked the waiter what it was. "That is Thali ma'am and sir" replied the amiable restaurant staff. Without further ado, I ordered one for myself while Aileen, still worried about contracting diarrhea ordered something else. For starters like myself, Thali (means 'plate') is an Indian and Nepali meal that consists of varying dishes like vegetable curry dish, dal, rice, papad and curd or yogurt and is served on a large round plate.  

1
© Aileen Siroy of Travel. Food. Finds

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When an Accommodating Phony Tourism Officer Turned Hotheaded at Istiqlal Mosque


After my temple run concluded in Yogyakarta, I went back to Jakarta for a couple of days before my Cebu Pacific flight back to Manila. At the hostel I met two other Filipinas who became my accidental tourist buddies. Since we're all going home the same night, we decided to spend our last day just roaming the city aboard a tuktuk, stopping for some sights and shopping along the way. After walking out of the National Monument park (Merdeka Square), we were approached by a thin middle age man wearing blue slacks and tucked in polo, introducing himself as an employee of the local tourism office.

17

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hanoi Spring Roll and a Conversation through Google Translation


One of the many amazing things about traveling is the opportunity to meet new people on the road. During my trip to Hanoi I met Hoang, a cheerful woman who works at one of the many Sihn Tourist offices in the city. Recommended by another traveler friend Jerik, I sought her out after I arrived to avail of a Halong Bay and Sapa tours. We met and conducted business but by the end of our transaction she unexpectedly extended an invitation for me to join her and some friends for a dinner at her place. Shy and feeling a bit paranoid brought on by a number of Asian gore movies, a series of images involving hack saw, chains and giant hammers flashed before me. "Hello Mark, you want to come yes?" as Hoang tapped me on my arm with a glistening smile and I was back to real world. "Sure, what time? I would love to go" I told her.

P1090688

Friday, August 15, 2014

An Example of a Well Assembled Space: Azumi Boutique Hotel


A series of flashing bulbs always lit up inside my brain each time I hear the term 'boutique hotel' - as a veteran of sleeping in dingy hotels devoid of management's proper planning and an architect's imagination, I welcome the idea of staying in a fancy nest. So, coming to Azumi Boutique Hotel in Alabang the day of the 2014 Globe TattAwards (where this travel blog was a finalist for the third straight year), my expectations are sky high. Home and hotel interiors always look better in pictures, so I was curious to see how Azumi would look like in actuality. 

DSC_1631

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Dharma Wheels Go Round and Round at Sarnath's Isipatana


 "... here at Sarnath he turned twelve wheels of Dharma ..."
"Keep in mind this most beautiful wood,
named by the great rishi,
where ninety-one thousand kotis of Buddhas
formerly turned the Wheel.
This place is matchless, perfectly calm,
contemplating, always frequented by deer.
In this most beautiful of parks,
whose name was given by the rishi,
I will turn the holy Wheel." 
Voice of the Buddha

DSC_7601

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Architecture in Focus: Hawa Mahal - the Palace of the Winds


Tucked within the busy streets of Jaipur, is an architectural marvel standing pyramidal 50 feet high of red and pink sandstone adorned with 953 jharokha windows designed intricately with latticework. Built in 1799 under the orders of Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the building was designed by the architect of Jaipur city, Lal Chand Ustad and is an example of Rajput Architecture prevalent in the state of Rajasthan. Inside was where the royal ladies practicing the purdah, peeks into the outside world observing the street affairs without getting seen. The direction to which the Hawa Mahal faces and the lattice allows a strong breeze to emanate from the outside and cool the interior which measures the size of a small room in width. Thus, it being called as "The Palace of the Winds".

DSC_8222

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Farm that Gawad Kalinga Built, of Social Entrepreneurship and Leaving No Poor Man Behind


I first heard of Gawad Kalinga as a non-government organization that builds houses for the homeless all over the country. Soon, I realize that their goals are bigger than any wooden shed, canopy or pillars they have erected before. Theirs is an organization that unearths the root of poverty with the intent of severing it from the ground to let a new stem of development grow into various spurts, eventually spreading all over the country. We were seated at the souvenir shop of the GK Enchanted Farm while satisfying our thirst with their in-farm product "Bayani Brew", when an unassuming middle age man in plain blue GK polo shirt, blue pants and sandals sat in front of us. The moment he started talking we were all ears. Clementine, a French intern at the farm interrupted him briefly addressing him as "Tito Tony". It finally rang a bell, Tony Meloto - the founder of Gawad Kalinga whom I've heard and read so much before is seated in front of us.

'Uncle' Tony Meloto is considered as a 'rock star' in the world of social development

Friday, July 25, 2014

Nomadic Experiences is a Globe TattAwards Finalist for the 3rd Time

Globe Telecoms' TattAwards has been recognizing social media influencers in the past few years and for three in a row, Nomadic Experiences has had the great fortune of being among the finalists short listed for different categories. In 2012 it was named as one of the five Visualizers, the category that recognizes that year’s best photography websites and last year it crashed the party of five included in the Best Food and Travel Blog category. Being acknowledged again this year is a big surprise considering I'm tapering off from writing travel narratives since I started my freelance writing job last year. If ever, this new recognition shall serve as a kick in the groin for me to continue living up to "Tattoo's fiery passion for greatness, founded on individuality and the courage to inspire 35 million Filipino netizens and the rest of the world." as aptly expressed by the Tatt Award’s concept.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ha Long Bay: from the Pages of NatGeo to Real Life


Instinctively or intentionally, the giant creature known as the 'creator of all things' strew countless poppy and sunflower seeds over a bowl of water. With a puzzled look on their faces, his guests wondered if these were meant for the hot bread served on the table. Before someone could raise a question, dozens of graceful belly dancers entered the room bringing free flowing wine and soon the purpose of the poppy and sunflower seeds were forgotten. Over time - like thousands of years later, these scattered seeds evolved into thousands of limestone karsts spread over more than 1,500 square kilometers of Ha Long Bay. 

DSC_4953

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Best Places to Photograph in the Philippines Part I


I know it's completely ridiculous to choose just ten as the best places to photograph in the Philippines from the endless list of stunning locations I've set foot in the past. Also, I've yet to visit other equally and even more visually orgasm inducing locations - but I've heard the echoes of oohs and aahs originating from my well traveled friends. I hope someday to add more to this list. Meanwhile, these are the places that gave my wanna-be-photographer pants some wet spots by experiencing the equivalent of a non-sexual wet dream, while shooting the most eye popping landscape and seascape one can imagine. 

First on the list is the rolling hills of Batanes

DSC_6533

Saturday, July 5, 2014

After Work Dinner at Gostoso Piri Piri, Kapitolyo


Since our first meeting and eventual foodtripping in Binondo three weeks ago, Monnette and I had been hitting various eating places like Bonnie and Clyde without the Gatling guns, but armed only with unmatched appetites. She had taken me on these long stretch of gastronomical delights along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, the previous week. So one night I pitched the idea of exploring another street known for its many choices of dining places; Kapitolyo or Capital Drive in Pasig City.

10
Photo from Gostoso's FB Page

Monday, June 30, 2014

(At long last) The Arrival: Kolkata, India


My fascination of going to India started even before I was bitten by the travel bug. Five to six years ago I deemed of going there as almost next to impossible as there are many factors to consider; the long haul flight and expensive airfare, being tied up with a corporate job and for a country as big as India - a mere 5 day trip just won't cut it, unless you go there just to see the Taj Mahal at Agra. However, circumstances have a strange way of conspiring to bring me to the country I longed sought to see.

DSC_7133

Friday, June 13, 2014

Halong Bay Side Step to Dau Go Cave


Apart from the thousands of limestone karst and small isles that adorns the whole of Halong Bay, there are small islands that also provides additional attraction like the Dau Go Cave (Wooden Stakes Cave). According to local stories, while planning a counter attack on their Mongolian enemies in 1288, the men of General Tran Hung Dao hid an enormous number of wooden stakes inside this cave. The wooden stakes were then flowed into the Bach Dang River to serve as obstacles against the attacking Mongols. It was a risky plan that tricked the enemy as the men of Kublai Khan got entangled with the wooden stakes as it tried to cross through the treacherous river bed, drowning a number of Mongolian warriors. 

DSC_5068

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Channeling Dolph Lundgren at Pulangui Bridge in Quezon, Bukidnon


When one mentions 'rappelling' I always remember the scene in the first Universal Soldier film where the characters of Dolph Lundgren and Jean Claude Van Damme go on an Australian rappel assault down the Hoover dam. Though, our experience at the 155 feet high Pulangui Bridge at Quezon, Bukidnon ain't nowhere near a UniSol's territory, I felt a massive rat throbbing from inside my chest as our guide prepares my safety gears. "Are you nervous" he repeated it to me "Are you nervous" I give him a thumbs up sign which betrays what I'm feeling, just before I kicked my feet and catapulted my body mid-air with only a sturdy rope saving me from a 3 second free fall to massive broken bones, or worse death.

DSC_4357

Friday, May 30, 2014

Accidental Tourist Buddies in Jakarta


Remember the two ladies who made a cameo on my flight-to-Jakarta narrative? well they stayed in the capital of Indonesia while I took a train to Yogyakarta. I thought the story ended there but to my wonderful surprise I bumped into them again a few days later. After spending 4 days at Yogyakarta I went back to Jakarta for the tail-end of my trip and ended up staying at the same hostel as these two lovelies who answers at the name of Tania and Carmel. I was downstairs of the hostel at the lounge working on my laptop when I saw them come down, I almost fell out of my seat and just froze. I heard about them talking about eating in a Korean Restaurant before they walked out the door. 

j2

Friday, May 9, 2014

Murmurs of Awe at Borobudur


Anytime you find your way to the world's largest and one of the acclaimed Buddhist temples in the world, you feel like toasting your kismet for bringing you there. Anytime you step foot on a structure built with such creativity and workmanship as far back the 9th century, it certainly rub additional semblance of history in the moment. Borobudur was the primary goal why I ventured into the city of Yogyakarta, to which at the time  I experienced my longest train ride from Jakarta, it has since been on my mind as something I shall see and scratch off the list of must-see places.

DSC_3603

Saturday, May 3, 2014

India Postcard Series: Arrival at Kolkata



Since my writing mojo usually arrives unannounced and at the least expected moment, I can't pinpoint exactly when I can start my India series. However, since I really wanted to share that experience I'm posting here a series of pictures I posted on my Facebook wall. This way, it'll give you an idea of the ground we covered, places we visited and some personal observations I made along the way. This first online postcard was taken at the airport in Kolkata. Finally, after years of wanting to visit the country of India I've made it into a reality, though there were no welcoming party, I must say our first night was spent trying to make up for  lost sleep.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Must Love Spelunking at Lahab Cave, Lights out for Pacquiao


Seated among other travel writers inside a van, we advanced further inland of Capiz province. As we passed by the scenic countryside my mind seem to wander towards the fourth fight of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, which at that time was about to happen in a few minutes. I was somehow unexcited about our next destination, a cave called Lahab Cave located at the town of Dumalag - around 45 klicks south of Roxas City. Little do I know that a shocker of a boxing result and a charming cave which exceeded my expectation, awaits me in a few hours. 

DSC_9524

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Oftentimes Blissful, Sometimes Unbearable Red Pill of Travel


A lot of factors help us psyche up our upcoming travels. From movies, to novels, to travel articles, it all paint an image in our mind of how our trips will go down. Most of the time we end up experiencing a series of bumps on the road, sometimes the polar opposite of it, depending on which you expect, either such adventurous epic failure-filled wandering or a walk in the park stroll throughout the path you drew on your itinerary map. During my recent 25-day trip to India, I actually expected the worst, I bought along dozens of anti-diarrhea medicine and a mosquito repellent (my first time ever to buy one). You wonder how I came into that expectations? well, count the number of films, books and travel articles that depicted India as one big chaotic nation BUT with cultural, religious and gastronomical offerings to provide feasts to all senses. I got the last part right, the rest? I was surprised to experience no unnecessary trips to the bathroom even if I feasted on Indian food, almost nary of a mosquito bite and was never harassed nor scammed. 

page

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Mosque Beneath the Ground of Taman Sari, Yogyakarta


Tucked underneath the Taman Sari Water Castle and hidden behind rows of houses and art cafes is this mosque used to be accessible only by a maze of underwater passageways. I just heard of it's existence from my friend Gaye Emami a few days before I left for Jakarta. The place wasn't easy to find as there are no signs that says "Underground Mosque this way --->". I just followed a group of young Indonesian students who seems to be on a field trip, at the back alleyways of Taman Sari. I saw them debating which direction to take, so I reckon they were also trying to find the mosque. I tried asking a local but unfortunately, she couldn't understand English, so I chased the group of students as they entered a small arched hallway. Inside, we had to duck our heads so as not to hit the ceiling and after a short series of strides we were led to a dead-end.

13

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

India Postcard Series: The Flight at Qutb Minar


It will take me some time to write about this India trip as I will let it simmer in my memory first. I won't sacrifice quality just for the sake of putting it on my travel blog ASAP. It deserves to be written when all my creative juices are flowing steadily and impressively as my experience here so far. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Vodka-tion at Hotel 878 in Libis Quezon City


Finding a place to stay in Metro Manila sometimes becomes a challenge especially for the budget conscious traveler. However, if you know where to look you will probably come across this small boutique hotel near the heart of Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City. It was a toxic month work-wise when I stayed here for the weekend with my friend Cher. With nothing else to do but to down the tall bottle of vodka she bought, we holed up inside our cozy two-level loft, with the intention of achieving a massive hangover the next day.

page

Growing a Three-Day Moustache at Lake Apo


Time is like frozen ice in this tranquil place overran by green grass that fronts a small lake surrounded by heaps of towering trees. We must have stayed here for a couple of hours tops, but it seems like long enough to clear my mind of big city worries. I only heard and read about Lake Apo prior to our trip here, I expect it to be this large mass of water where you won't hear the shouts of kids from the other end. But I did heard the kids playing from the other side where small pockets of villagers' houses stands by the lake, homes that could pass up as retirement abode for the workaholics everywhere. I could retire here, I thought to myself, living in a small wooden cabin, I just love the peaceful atmosphere of the place. Granted there is internet connection though.

DSC_4402

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Walk in the Cold Around Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake


During the four mornings I spent in the city of Hanoi in-between my jaunts to Halong Bay and Sapa, my favorite part was walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake. Being under sunny skies, feeling the winter wind and being embraced by the 12 degree Celsius cold is the perfect condition to romp and stomp and get to know a new city. The occasional showers which show up at an interlude of a couple of hours had me sheltering under the tall trees that surround the lake. Otherwise, I would have gone round and round and round the lake. Sometimes I would walk towards a random street ending up another side of the Old French Quarters, but each time I would always follow a path back to Hoan Kiem Lake.

DSC_5492
the Turtle Tower or Thap Rua

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A 9th Century Time - Throwback to Prambanan


After suffering from temple overload around the same time I attained a visual high zen state of mind at the 9th century Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur, we proceeded to another throwback of that century, but this time to a Hindu temple compound called the Candi Prambanan. My interest level in seeing more temples that day fluctuated within .50 mark. Upon stepping out of the van however, as I saw the sharp towers of the Prambanan temples highlighted by the tallest, the Shiva temple, I felt a new wave of anticipation as I march closer to the temple compound. 

DSC_3801

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

8:30 Sleeper Train to Sapa


The weather in Hanoi hovered down to 12 degrees according to the app on my phone, whether it is accurate or not my pulsating fingers are telling me there's no need to question its veracity. So while waiting for the van to pick me up at the office of SinhTourist I walked across a small noodle joint and ordered a bowl of hot Pho Ga. My new found friend in the city Hoang told me about the snow that fell in Sapa a few days before, she advised me to add extra layers of clothing. I told Hoang the cold never bothered me anyway. It was a lie, as I sat quivering waiting to sip on some hot Vietnamese chicken noodles I imagined how much coldness awaits me in Sapa. 

DSC_5158

Postcard Series: Sunset over the Grassland of Batanes


Everywhere you gaze your eyes you catch a wonderful scene. Staring at the slopes of the rolling hills forming outlines of a lover's embrace, you feel the hard travelling wind as it brushes off your face. It was cold alright, but as the last echoes of light give way to the luminous lighting of the moon rising up from the opposite direction, the setting sun becomes the center of attention. As if signaling the end of day, the herded cows prepare to leave the grassland by slowly walking towards their resting place for the night. I catch a last glimpse of the rounded sun before it kisses the edge of the vast ocean. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Slamma Jamma sans Pajama at Linden Suites


The past few years I've met a lot of kindred souls in this wander-maniac community composed of Pinoy Travel Bloggers. It has become an unwritten rule that whenever our muse Gay Emami is in town, it's automatic that we should hang out in some random places to drink, sing karaoke songs and talk about our travel experiences. Because of our hectic schedules (not working) but traveling, it is a rare occurrence to gather a crowd of more than five. Fortunately, on one cold January night a bunch of us showed up at the 19th floor of Linden Suites in Ortigas. It was an affair billed as "Pajama Party Wherein We Don't Wear Pajamas"

max
Photo Credit: Marx of http://www.marxtermind.com/

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Postcard Series: Hey Oh Snow

I already felt cold in 10 degree Celsius Hanoi when I took the sleeper train going to Sapa in the northern part of Vietnam. A few days before snow fell on this scenic mountain town and I was just in time to come with the sun. The ice on the streets have since melted but the snow-capped mountain are still to be seen, and the weather further went down to 2 degrees Celsius. It was my first time seeing snow and as we hiked on our first day there, my neck churns from left to right and each time I see the neighboring peaks I mutter to myself 'hey oh snow' and the Peppers' song hums in my mind "come to decide that the things i tried were in my life just to get high on"

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Much About Edu Hostel in Yogyakarta


When in doubt ask around and inquired I did, not just to anybody but to travel experts in this cool travel community I'm a part of. Paul and Joshua, two fellow travel bloggers who have recently spent a week at Yogyakarta were quick to recommend this hostel when I made the inquiry about a place to stay while at Yogyakarta at our Facebook group. It is the community I'm talking about which is composed of travel addicts who currently capers rehab by constantly wandering on the road. Edu Hostel was the top choice and after making a quick study of a handful of other options I booked this hotel online a week prior to my departure for Jakarta.

edu-hostel_-6-bed-dormitory
Dorm room. Photo credit: http://www.eduhostels.com/photo

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A HIP Christmas in the Typhoon Ravaged Islet of Silagon


HiP
verb
1. Helping islets in the Philippines

When I first saw the event page on my Facebook I instantly knew it would be an interesting experience to spend Christmas in an islet ravaged by Yolanda (Haiyan). As what lead organizer Kakay says "We're gonna help them get their spirit back" and the planned Christmas eve celebrations is the first in the many phases of rebuilding efforts. I joined the project as a photographer and only to document it, much of the foot work and fund drive were done by the other organizers and volunteers, it went out clockwork for a month before I found myself on a scenic mini-bus ride from Silay to Sagay, Negros Occidental. I was running late and knowing the advance party was already sitting on a boat with all the supplies hauled on board already, I was jumpy at my seat. By the time I arrived at Old Sagay they have burned 3 hours waiting for me, but nevertheless the trip that will go down as one of the best I had in year 2013 was just about to start.

105
Practicing  "Star ng Pasko" for their Song Number